‘Our future does not depend on upgrading premises, tinkering with structures, devising new strategies either local or Connexional. We will have a future when prayer rather than projects saturate our agenda. We will have a future when presbyters drag themselves away from their computers and get out and talk to people, helping them to pray, discover God in the world and talk about it. We will have a future when Methodists, who long to love God with all their heart, mind and soul feel the transforming power of the Spirit’ – Rev Tom Stuckey, a past President of the Methodist Conference.
Methodism is a mission possible. My conviction points to the book of Ezekiel written by Prophet Ezekiel meaning ‘God will strengthen,’ which resonates with the hope in relation to present state of mission and vision in Methodism (Ezk 37). In agreement with Rev Stuckey, when the leadership or the church is captured and carried away by Babylon culture, we become Babylonian church. I also agree and join my faith with Rev Loraine Mellor, God has not finished yet with Methodism, a part of spiritual Israel, the church today. The seeds and bones (theology and spirituality) of Wesley, the father of Methodism is comparable to Prophet Elisha’s dead bones (spirituality) (2 Kg 13). The present seeds and bones of Methodism may be dry and very dry, there is still life in it. God of second chance is renewing and raising more Ezekiels, prophets of hope to declare new life upon Methodism against all odds. Beloved, when God speaks, things happen, enough of speaking and maintaining the skeletons (structures), enough of covering the dry bones or selling off part of our seeds and bones, it is time to pray and speak God’s word in truth and spirit to them.
I welcome you to this prayer network for the just concluded 2017 British Methodist Conference in Birmingham. With the testimonies coming out of the Conference, please let us continue to pray using some of the prophetic inspirations in this write up for effective implementations of the Conference decisions. Kindly join us every first Sunday of the month to pray and fast for healing of homes and marriage, personal and corporate revival in our land.
PRAYER FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 1
“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America (and Africa). But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.” –John Wesley
Let us pray and ask God to inspire and empower every proceeding, every breakout meeting, every item of legislation, every delegate conversation, every word from the session floor (including church meetings). Let us pray asking God that by the power of His Holy Spirit, the Conference might be fruitful toward renewing and reestablishing the doctrine, spirit, and discipline on which we first set out as a renewal movement. Let us ask God to lead us away from any manner of conversation, legislative act, or proceeding that would lure us into the embrace of empty religion which manifests the form but lacks the power. Let us ask God to lead Methodist people to soul saving and life-giving decisions in Jesus name.
NOTE: Be a part of the daily prayer network for the Conference in your locality. The vision is to get at least one person or group praying for the Conference every day.
PRAYER FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 2
“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation” – John Wesley
Our history as Methodists suggests a growing vision and a way forward for us during and after the Conference. In the early 1700s, Moravia, a small village in Germany was formed and named Herrnhut ‘the Lord Watch,’ by a small religious migrants and exiles with different languages and creeds living side by side. In the midst of disagreements they gave ‘themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word,’ with all night prayer vigil, Bible study and confession of their sins. Passion for mission and unity was birth based on Isaiah 62:6 when they started on August 13, 1727 24 hour around the clock prayer vigil which lasted over 100 years with missionaries sent all over the world. With prayer as their priority, the Moravian greatly influenced John and Charles Wesley hence, Methodism was born for ONE thing, to bear witness to the truth of God’s Word (Jn 18:37). Let us pray for grace to abide in our calling as a missionary church (1 Cor 7:24).
As a connection of faithful followers of Jesus Christ let us pray that prayer and ministry of the Word would be a top priority in the Conference, among our leadership and in our local churches. Let us pray for more and open opportunities for empowerment to share the good news of Jesus Christ during and after the Conference looking upon all the world as our parish. Let us ask God to instil within our delegates humble hearts and discerning minds that hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, justice and vision of eternal life. Let us ask God keep us from all sin and evil so that we may serve Him in all faithfulness through Jesus, our Lord. Let us pray that every corner of each piece of legislation during the Conference be washed in prayer.
PRAYER FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 3.
‘You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want you most’ – John Wesley.
Most of the Wesley’s 12 practical guidelines or principles called ‘The Rules of a Helper’ as recorded in the Minutes of Conference, 29 June 1744 and revised in 1745 are still relevant for us today because it opens the window to strategy for aligning leadership as extension of discipleship and, especially in saving souls. When saving of souls becomes obsolete, the church declines and the nation decays. Let us pray for open heaven during the Induction of the new President and Vice-President of Conference, the Revd Loraine N Mellor and Mrs Jill Baker, for their families and for their year in office. Let us pray that they will keep their eyes on Jesus Christ (2 Chr 20:12). Let us pray for them that they will not take a step apart from God’s leading (Exd 33:15). Let us pray they will beware of relying on their own strength (2 Sam 24:10). LIke Nehemiah, the best shepherds are those who genuinely grieve the spiritual decline and brokenness of the people they lead, let us pray Loraine and Jill, they will weep over the sin and failure of the nation and of God’s people (Neh 1:4). Ministry and especially leadership as a trust is time-consuming and spiritually demanding, let us pray that Loraine and Jill will know when to push away from the crowds to pray (Luk 5:15-16).
Let us give thanks for the outgoing President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Rev Dr Roger Walton and Ms Rachel Lampard and their families. Let us ask for God blessing upon their future plans after their year in office. Sensing a wind of change in the realm of the Spirit, our call as Methodists to be God’s prophetic people, requires our personal and corporate renewal. Let us arise and ask God for revelation and humility so that we may understand the changing seasons and do God’s will and purposes in the life of our local churches and communities. Let us pray that God’s prophetic words will be released over the church and that we may know His will in our nations (Is 55:11).
Let us pray to God of our yesterdays and our tomorrows, to help us to be His faithful church today. On this very day ,family suffer needlessly (especially from the Tower block evacuations in London), nations are divided (Brexit negotiation), neighbours are separated, and a million human hearts long for your grace and power. Let us pray and ask God to rekindle His holy fire in our hearts and fill us with power to spread the good news of salvation as effectively now as in the time of John Wesley. Guide and inspire Conference delegates to heal and bless our nation and world in general. Let us pray for the loving and redeeming heart of Jesus to guide our delegates in actions and voting especially for local churches with vision for a place for young people, soul winning, and discipleship.
PRAYER FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 4
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”
― John Wesley
In our prayers for the Conference, let us pray for all Ordinands and their families today. Let us ask the Holy Ghost, to inspire their souls and lighten with celestial fire with the God’s sevenfold gifts and anointing. Let us ask for God’s blessed unction from above for comfort, life and fire of love; ‘enable with perpetual light the dullness of our blinded sight.’ Let us ask God to anoint them with abundance of grace and for God to keep them far from foes, grant peace to them at home and divine direction and guide no ill can come. O Lord let their love for you and for evangelism be their endless song. They will not be lost in the hubbub of ministry. They will be able to distinguish between their personal faith in JESUS CHRIST and professional performance. Let us pray they they will not become wolves in the midst of the sheep. Let us pray that they will not fall into occupational landmines of spiritual dryness and emotional starvation.
Let us pray that our Ordinands may hunger for truth and thirst after righteousness, with grace and power to proclaim the gospel of salvation. As they minister the sacraments of the new covenant, let us ask God to renew them in holiness, and give them wisdom and discipline to work faithfully with those committed to their charge. Let us pray that they will not be lonely in a crowd or be isolated from the common people. Let us pray that in union with their fellow servants in Christ, may they reconcile what is divided, heal what is wounded and restore what is lost. May they declare your blessings to your people; may they proclaim Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness,and absolve in Christ’s name those who turn to him in faith; so shall a people made whole in Christ offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you in Jesus name.
May they grow on to perfection and faith in Jesus Christ in harmony with the Holy Scriptures. May they follow the pace and priorities for ministry in the Father’s agenda. Let us pray that their future focus will not just be for a life time. Let us pray that they will not be control by the damaging rearview-mirror perspective. They will not be control by remembering a past that never was and long to go back to old days which were more miserable than today. Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayers
PRAYER FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 5
“When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Hosea 13:6 (NIV)
The book of Hosea comes to mind when one ponder on the decline in the church in our post-Truth culture. Beyond the challenge of too many tares and not enough wheat, and easy-believism, we live in dangerous times, troubling times, yet in times in which all true believers are required by God to be faithful, and even excel (Dan. 11:32). The heart of our problem is not declining numbers but waning conversion of people and spiritual commitment. Our problem is not money or structures, but lack of God’s people (conversion) called by God’s name, ready to humble themselves, and pray, and seek God’s face in repentance, and turn from their wicked ways; then will God hear from heaven, and will forgive our sins, and will heal our decline (2 Chr 7:14). Nations are sick today because the church is declining hence, the change is first self-people change. To stand firm in times of the declining Church is a miracle of God’s grace, and our prayer with the Psalmist should be: O let me not wander from thy commandments (Ps.119:10). Let us use the words of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour to pray for our new leadership and the Conference for the grace to hold fast to the Bible in all conversation and decisions; so that Methodism will arise again and rest upon solid foundations and withstand the flood-tide of sin and iniquity that is increasingly coming upon the face of the earth. Let us pray that we will hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21) – to a form of sound words (2 Tim 1:13) – our profession (Heb. 10:23) – and whatever light and attainments we have been given (Rev. 2:25 and Rev. 3:11). Let us pray that the hearts and lips of our Conference members will think, know, and speak whatsoever things are true – honest – just – pure – lovely – of good report – virtuous – praiseworthy … (see Phil.4:8).
To reverse our decline, let us pray for the Conference for decisions and actions to facilitate quick changes – personal and corporate. One of the frustration with churches and reason for decline today is the leadership focusing too much on “milk” and avoiding the “meat” of the Gospel. To fix our lagging membership and develop an effective outreach program to the lost, let us pray for Conference conversation and decisions that challenge the spiritual growth and intellect of the membership. All change begins with self change, God is calling the Conference, our local churches and leadership to get away from the “business” model and return to individuals sharing and leading people to Jesus and that is where most conversions occur. God is calling the Conference and churches to change from tending to sending leadership hence, let us pray for effective discipleship to grow the people spiritually. Let us pray that the Conference will be more relational and less professional.
PRAYER FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 6
Using the Secretary of Conference the Revd Canon Gareth J Powell as point of contact, let us pray for the Conference delegates, officials, and all the volunteers for strength and good health. Let us pray for their families asking for God’s abiding presence and cover over them. Let us pray and ask God to create a holy discontent in our hearts and churches to reach the vast growing population in UK just as John Wesley distraught by the powerlessness of the church went beyond the conventional modes of ministry.
The worst thing that can happen to us is to lose our vitality, “having the form of religion without the power,” let us pray for the Conference under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for powerful decisions to overcome our decline. Let us pray that God’s mission—to seek and to save the lost—will be the top priority for the Conference and in all local churches . Let us pray for the Conference delegates, for their openness to the movement of the Holly Spirit, for their stamina, for their spiritual and physical wellbeing.
Just as Christianity was never designed to be a spectator sport, the early Methodist Conference was never an end in itself, but a means to an end, the end being saving souls. Let us pray for the Conference to rediscover the genius of the Wesleyan revival, promoting ways in engaging coldly indifferent masses and turn them into warmed-heart disciples who will change the family, church and the nation in general. With prayer as a hallmark of early Methodism, Wesley called prayer, ‘the grand means of drawing near to God,’ believing that persistent prayer is necessary step to see God move again. Let us pray for prayer revival in our Conference and local churches. Let us pray that the love of Jesus Christ will grip the Conference members that they would not be able to keep it to themselves but provide leadership in reaching the vast masses of people with the salvation message of Jesus Christ. Let us pray for revival of open air preaching and that many would be touched by God’s spirit and awaken to their spiritual state. Let us pray for renewal of intentional support and encouragement for people in a small group for spiritual growth – classes for a lasting life change through faith in Jesus Christ.
PRAYING FOR 2017 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM – 7
PRAYING THE PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS
“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what gospel is that?” – Oscar Romero
On the current state of the Methodist Church, the newly elected President of Methodist Conference, the Revd Loraine Mellor’s inaugural address resonates with the fear of John Wesley. According to her, ‘my fear and my nightmare, is that as a church we will decline so much we will go out of existence as Methodists, we will not have many people around but we will be very rich as there are millions of pounds locked away in church funds. I fear that we are not being hospitable and generous with what we have. We are not using our money to enabling people to learn how to share Jesus. Our money is not paying for an evangelist, not funding a youth worker, engaging with the one program, having an intern, not serving the poor, not feeding the hungry, not sharing the amazing wonderful life enriching love of God, but moreover, not appreciating that everyone we encounter has something to offer as well.’ We need to join her vision in taking radical risks to change our future against the dwindling membership bearing in mind that ‘we don’t have too many churches, we just don’t have enough people in them.’ Let us join her to declare and pray we are not ready for Methodist funeral with the believe God has not done with us yet. Let us pray for repentance and return to our heritage of aggressive (energetic, driving, zealous) evangelism and conversion. Let us pray that the remnant Methodists (ordained and lay) would arise again in truth and Spirit giving priority to mission and evangelism. Let us pray for a renewed model of ministry and method of training our minister and local preacher with emphasis on soul winning and church planting.
Reflecting on Loraine’s testimony on how Mrs Wroe introduced her to God and instilled in her passion for Jesus, keeping it real with her encounter with the Holy Spirit, let us pray for more of Mrs Wroe in our Connexion, for people, especially our young ones to experience glimpses of God’s glory. Let us pray for ‘bringing one person to faith,’ vision and a discipleship movement shaped for mission, of finding a distinctive voice, Let us pray for increase of pastors in every church, being on the edge of Pentecost and an end to ease of closing churches. A local church that does not consistently make new disciples is not church but a club house waiting for extinction. Let us pray for a renew concentration on the Gospel especially “in a world where a multitude of truths and an infinite choice of lifestyles seem possible, Christians need to shape their lives by the pattern of Jesus. We have to be Jesus- Shaped.’ Let us pray for true experience of Jesus in our worth-ship, vibrant, authentic, relevant, awe-inspiring, God centred and resonates with the story from scripture. Let us pray for confidence among our congregation to evangelise and honouring God in our heart, making defence of the gospel of Jesus. Let us pray for a renew recognition of our role and responsibility in sharing the gospel, encouraging people to talk of God. Let us pray that our ministers will be release to mission and not in maintenance. Let us pray for an end in perpetuating a creaking system, which hinder our mission and multicultural growth. Let us pray for engagement of evangelist and youth worker in every circuit with the awareness that 85% of those who come to faith are under the age of 25.
Reflecting on John Millbank’s statement about the Church of England, “The future of the CofE’s mission depends very much on the restoration of a learned clergy who will once again command cultural respect,” let us pray for a renew and increase ordained manpower spreading across the Connexion, changing the culture of doing mission, making new discipleship, evangelism, and leading in church planting. Let us pray that our Conference, District and local church meetings will not be a daydream – vision without action or become a nightmare – action without vision.
PRAYER FOR 2107 BRITISH METHODIST CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM 8
‘Our future does not depend on upgrading premises, tinkering with structures, devising new strategies either local or Connexional. We will have a future when prayer rather than projects saturate our agenda. We will have a future when presbyters drag themselves away from their computers and get out and talk to people, helping them to pray, discover God in the world and talk about it. We will have a future when Methodists, who long to love God with alL their heart, mind and soul feel the transforming power of the Spirit’ – Rev Tom Stuckey, a past President of the Methodist Conference.
Let us pray for safe trips back home for all the delegates, volunteers, and officials. Let us pray for Nottingham Conference in 2018 and Rev Michaela Youngson and Bala Gnanapragasam, new President and Vice-President designates – 2018/19.
I believe as the 2017 British Methodist Conference comes to a means to an end, the end being saving souls and healing of this nation, God is speaking expressly through the power of the Holy Spirit to the churches and to the Methodist Church in particular. Still reflecting and praying the Loraine’s 2017 Presidential address, I believe the new book released and launched during the 2017 Methodist Conference in Birmingham by a former President of Methodist Conference,Tom Stuckey, ‘Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: The Future of the Church in Britain, A Methodist Perspective,’ beyond theological critique of church and Methodism especially, suggests a timely divine alarm to the Church that ‘has unconsciously absorbed the values of Babylon into its structures and strategies with the result that it has ceased to be prophetic and become a public utility offering cheap grace to a consumer public looking for peace and security in troubled times.’ In anticipation for a vibrant fruitful future for the church, Stuckey’s book provides a prayerful analysis and prophetic approach and proclamation to overcome the fears of John Wesley and Loraine Mellor. In the words of Stuckey, ‘the Babylonian captivity has robbed Methodism of its ‘holiness,’ and employing John Wesley’s dictum, ‘Know your disease! Know your cure!’ let us pray for personal and corporate repentance.
Stuckey rightly explained that ‘Babylon is both a city and a Whore, a term used to signify luxury, sensuality, sexuality, seduction and allure’ hence we forget God and delight in the money god, Mammon, god of Babylonian consumerism culture and a beast of corruption. God of Babylonians ruling the world is always looking for people to love and take money, freedom, and pleasure in the place of God hence, the call for a renew evangelism demands a sense of urgency. To stop the church funeral, God is calling us to reverse the moral decline. Let us pray and break Babylonian pride and charms upon the church. Let us pray and break the ‘expressions of cheap grace giving people a feel of good experience without requiring discipleship.’ The truth is that the culture and sins of Babylon that ‘has so permeated the Church’ cannot be overcome without confronting ourselves with the truth of God’s Word. Let us pray for a mission-shaped church as against the present church-shaped mission maintenance.
Let us pray for an end to a consumer audience worshippers, the captivity of boredom and snappy address. Let us pray and break the church captivity ‘to the dominant identity of its society’ so as to regain ‘the power to create, not merely to evangelise, but also the power to become renewed.’ Let us pray that Methodism will arise with the corrective of prophetic theology to address ‘this deluding Babylonian culture’ and its managerial and mechanical solutions. Let us pray and declare, enough is enough of decades of ‘shifting the furniture of worship and tinkering with our structures’ and ‘our heavy organisational baggage and ecclesiastical civil service. Beloved in Christ, is it nothing to you that ‘our bureaucracy is stifling our democracy and democracy has triumphed over theocracy?’ Let us pray for a humble ‘prayerful repentance, the evangelical power of the Word of God, sacrificial service and, personal evangelism.’ God is saying to the church, enough of taming God for Babylonian culture. Let us pray for the humility to ‘grasp that the cross exposes the darker side of human progress.’ Let us pray for revival and growth in ‘our very own Babylonian exile.’